SCGOP: Meddling In Multiple Primary Elections

State party under fire for controversial endorsements, campaign finance scandal …

Two weeks ago, we reported on the questionable involvement of the South Carolina Republican party (SCGOP) in a legislative race in Anderson county. In that contest – for S.C. House District 8 (.pdf) – the party is supporting Vaughn Parfitt, a local optometrist who is challenging third-term incumbent Jonathan Hill.

At the other end of the state, however, the party is endorsing a pair of status quo incumbents – Alan Clemmons and Heather Ammons Crawford – in their contested primary races for two coastal districts in Horry county.

On what basis is the party making these decisions?

Good question …

Hill is a staunch supporter of freedom and free markets whose convictions have caused him to clash quite often with party leaders (who clearly no longer support these values). Clemmons and Crawford? They are fiscal liberals who toe the party line.

Overtly opposing limited government champions while endorsing big government backers tells you all you need to know about the present ideological orientation of the SCGOP, doesn’t it?

Indeed … although our readers knew that already.

Whether an incumbent is aligned with the emerging liberty movement within the SCGOP – or part of its failed big government majority – isn’t the issue, though. When it comes to primary elections, isn’t the state party supposed to stay neutral and let Republican voters decide who they wish to support?

Yes …

Until now, anyway.

SCGOP chairman Drew McKissick – who appears to have no compunction whatsoever when it comes to violating his own party’s rules – has decided to pick winners and losers in these three primary races (and maybe others, too). Not only that, McKissick has reportedly told local officials he was allowing third party entities to use the SCGOP’s discounted postal rate for their mailings – an arrangement which raises a host of campaign finance issues.

Late Monday, the Anderson county Republican party issued a sternly worded resolution in which it accused the SCGOP of ethically violating its “longstanding tradition of neutrality.”

The resolution “unequivocally condemns and censures the actions of the SCGOP which favor one candidate over another.” It further stated party meddling has “created a loss of trust and confidence” among rank and file members – and went on to allege that state campaign finance laws “may have been violated” by the SCGOP.

Finally, the resolution called for an investigation into whether the SCGOP “aided with the contributions of any ‘dark’ money” in these races – which we believe is the most significant aspect of this story.

Republicans supporting fiscal liberals over fiscal conservatives sadly no longer comes as a surprise to us … but if the SCGOP broke campaign finance laws in the process, that would create legal problems in addition to ethical ones.

All of which creates a major perception problem for the party …

(Click to view)

(Via: Heather Crawford for S.C. House)

Also, Crawford (above) – one of the two status quo incumbents who benefited from the SCGOP support – recently accused her rivals of launching “dark money” attacks against her. How ironic is it that she is now on the receiving end of some questionable campaign finance support of her own?

Given this news outlet’s contempt for both major political parties, we are not about to wade into either’s internal drama. However we do believe South Carolina Republicans are making a break with one of their few remaining core principles by engaging in these three primary elections – while simultaneously showing their true colors.

“It is up to the SCGOP to determine how and when it wishes to weigh in on primary races, but in violating a long-honored tradition of neutrality the party is indeed entering uncharted territory,” we noted in our initial coverage of this drama. “Also (its meddling) is sending a terrible message to supporters of limited government, lower taxes and less spending.”

The gist of that message? Your views are no longer welcome here.

Stoking such division could also play into Democrats’ hands – assuming the perpetual minority party in the Palmetto State ever decides to buy a clue and invest in the segmentation/ suppression of the GOP electorate.




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